August 23, 2018

Joint Base Charleston Civic Leaders Tour MacDill Air Force Base, Florida

Joint Base Charleston

Seventeen local civic leaders, who serve as conduits for leadership and advocates for the Air Force, flew on a JB Charleston C-17 Globemaster III to MacDill's 6th Air Mobility Wing in order to gain a broader understanding of the Air Mobility Command mission.

"Civic leader tours help our community leaders understand and appreciate not only the JB Charleston mission, but the Air Force mission as whole," said Col. Jeff Nelson, 628th Air Base Wing commander. "It's a privilege for us to show them what we do first-hand so they can help tell our story in the community."

The mission, unique operations and various units made MacDill AFB a great location to showcase a different side of AMC's capabilities. The two-day tour allowed civics to view and participate in several demonstrations, including parachute packing, a KC-135 Stratotanker flight simulator as well as refueling simulator, and a tour of the United States Central Command headquarters building, among other activities.

"To me the best part was the SERE demonstration," said Daniel Brock, Rawle-Murdy Associates public affairs and social media account supervisor. "It was cool to see some of the things our search and rescue teams are capable of and it's nice knowing that our Airmen and Soldiers have the training to survive if they ever are caught in a scenario where they need to."

While educational, the demonstrations weren't the only learning opportunities. Several civic leaders were able to interact with and learn about the actual Airmen who help accomplish the mission every day.

"I enjoyed getting to meet and talk with some of the Airmen, both from MacDill and Joint Base Charleston" said Ernest Andrade, executive director of Charleston Digital Corridor. "Understanding the mission and the various jobs at MacDill was a great experience, especially the briefing at SOCOM headquarters.

"I'd say overall we just learned," said Brock. "We learned about the people in the Air Force, we learned about MacDill's mission and we learned more about other civic leaders as well as the Joint Base's leaders."

Along with the 628th ABW commander and Command Chief Master Sgt. Todd Cole, 628 ABW command chief, Col. Clinton ZumBrunnen, 437th Airlift Wing commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Juan Guzman-Gonzalez, 437th Aerial Port Squadron superintendent, co-hosted the visit to MacDill.

"It was great having both sides of the house, the 437th and 628th, along with civic leaders and honorary commanders from both wings go on this trip to learn more about our AMC partners," said ZumBrunnen. "It's not every day I get to fly 17 civilians in a C-17 to show them another aspect of the Air Force than they are used to seeing here at home."

With the civic leader program aiming to hold tours such as these for local community leaders every year, Nelson is confident that this year's trip will not only encourage the civic leaders who attended to continue to participate, but for even more civics to attend next year.

"We're grateful for everyone who took time out of their busy schedules to participate in the tour," said Nelson. "This is a rare opportunity and thankfully everyone who attended enjoyed the experience. With the success of this trip, we're excited to grow the program and share it with more of our Charleston community leaders."